Ryan Meikle plays Yuki Yamada in a clash of debutants at the 2020 PDC World Championship.

Read below for the fifth of 32 match previews for the World Championship first round ties.

Facts and figures

Match time/date: 13:30, December 14

Head-to-head record: First meeting

Previous meeting: N/A

Best major performance this season: Last 16, Players Championship (Meikle); N/A (Yamada)

Previous PDC World Championship appearances: Debut (both)

Best PDC World Championship performance: N/A (both)

Preview

To be honest, the ‘Facts and figures’ section will normally look a bit more interesting than that.

The World Championship is not just hallowed ground for Ryan Meikle and Yuki Yamada, but also untested waters, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphors. Both are first-timers at the Ally Pally; only one can have the perfect first impression.

Meikle will kick things off as the favourite, and not just for home field advantage. ‘The Barber’, a name imaginatively picked out due to his day job as a lion tamer (only kidding; he’s a barber), has come into form in recent months. 23-year-old Meikle made it to the semi-finals of the World Youth Championship, only to lose out to Adam Gawlas. He bounced back in fine style, dumping Jonny Clayton out of the Players Championship Final in not just a shock, but a whitewash. He also saw off Darius Labanauskas before falling at the hands of Stephen Bunting – though he was arguably at his best in the defeat.

Yamada, meanwhile, will certainly be a new face for casual viewers and even for a number of committed darts fans in the western Hemisphere. The 36-year-old finished fifth in the PDC Asian Tour, which was only enough to secure World Championship qualification as compatriot Seigo Asada claimed the dedicated Japanese spot. His zenith came at Asian Tour 10 in Hong Kong; Yamada brushed off fellow Ally Pally attendees Lourence Ilagan, Nitin Kumar and Paul Lim to claim the title. He’s a rising star in Japan, and will want to show it in London.

Ipswich ace Meikle could set up an ‘Old Farm Derby’ with Norwich native Darren Webster in round two. That’ll be a quiet night at the library – not! Of course, Yamada will want to crash that particular party.

Prediction

The Asian Tour is stacked with quality, and so anyone representing the continent will be a force to be reckoned with. Yet Yamada, who edged into the last spot and makes his TV debut thousands of miles from home, is the Tour’s least likely to succeed. Meikle has hit form at the right time for this one – Meikle 3-0 Yamada is the prediction.

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

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Author: Ed McCosh